Manny Machado's Ankle Injury Could Completely Change NL Playoff Race

San Diego Padres v Colorado Rockies
San Diego Padres v Colorado Rockies / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

Manny Machado was likely the National League MVP favorite heading into Sunday's action. Now we don't know when he'll see the field again. The San Diego Padres superstar suffered a brutal left ankle injury while trying to leg out an infield single in the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday. If he's out for a while it could change the entire state of the NL playoff race.

The injury is being called an ankle sprain at this point, but it looked like a really bad one. Machado had to be helped off the field and couldn't put much weight on his injured leg. He looked to be in serious pain and a protracted IL stint seems likely. That means the Padres would be without Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. for a while just as they had caught the Los Angeles Dodgers atop the NL West. San Diego entered Sunday a half-game behind the boys in blue and possessed the third-best record in the NL.

As we have noted before, the Padres have gotten to this position thanks to phenomenal starting pitching despite struggling offensively. Machado has carried them for much of the year as Tatis heals from a broken wrist. Without their star third baseman, the Padres' lineup looks incredibly weak.

Machado is currently fifth in the NL in batting average (.328) and has 12 home runs, 46 RBIs and a slash line of .328/.400/.545, and his fWAR of 4.2 leads all of Major League Baseball. Offensively and defensively he's been spectacular and maybe the best we've ever seen him. This injury has comes at the worst possible time.

Without Machado lifting up the offense, San Diego should struggle. That will open the door for other teams like the San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies to catch and surpass the Padres.

On Sunday the last-place Rockies finished a three-game sweep of the Padres in which they outscored San Diego 23-11. The Friars had some subpar pitching performances over the weekend, but their offense never really showed up at Coors Field. Now, without Machado, things are fixing to get a whole lot worse.

If Machado is going to miss up to a month or more, Padres general manager A.J. Preller may need to get aggressive in finding the team another bat. If he can't it wouldn't be shocking to see San Diego tumble down the standings.